Quesnel Looks to Limit Political Signage
Quesnel, B.C. – They are a major tool for candidates running for public office and the City of Quesnel is looking to drastically limit their use – political signs.
At a meeting last night Council there asked staff to bring back a political campaign sign bylaw that would restrict the number of signs to six and for where and how long the signs could be installed on public land.
The bylaw would govern signage use during municipal (including school board), provincial and federal elections.
“We’ve been reviewing the City’s sign bylaw, which of course restricts not-for-profit societies, restricts people who put up signs for garage sales and restricts our commercial operators on the signage they can have all in an effort to maintain the beautification of the City,” says Mayor Bob Simpson.
“We also invest hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in our beautification efforts and as we were having a discussion about the sign bylaw, it was pointed out to us and we realized there’s one class of citizens who get a pass – politicians. Politicians give themselves a pass when it comes to their signs.”
He says there are various good reasons to limit the signs – to create equal opportunity for all candidates, to maintain community aesthetics, to promote environmental sustainability, to reduce administrative burdens and cost and to reduce campaign workload and potential conflict.
Simpson says there would be an extra added bonus too.
“We think that this would drive a better relationship between candidates and voters because then the candidates would have to go to private citizens to put up lawn signs or go to commercial owners. It would be a true relationship between the sign and the voting support that a person has in a community.”
He notes candidates would not be able to get around the bylaw by simply creating bigger signs.
“We already have restrictions around sign size and we already have a restriction around sign location with respect to traffic flows and public buildings and so on. So those restrictions remain and it would be an upper ceiling of sign size. So technically a candidate could have six signs all of the same size – about 4 X 4 or 4 X 6.”
Simpson says Council is hoping to have the bylaw back by fall and clarified in time by next spring’s provincial election.
He says Quesnel would be one of the first B.C. communities to enact such a law.
“Whistler’s municipal candidates did it voluntarily in the last election in their downtown core and they’re looking about how they might formalize that. Terrace is actually putting in a bit of a restrictive sign bylaw we looked at as well.”
Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall says while a restrictive sign bylaw is not a priority of his council he’s open to the idea.
“I’m open to the discussion. It isn’t a priority we have on our list of things to do but we’re certainly open for discussion on it.”